Top Ten Tuesday: Thankful Edition

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.


THIS WEEK'S TOPIC:
WHAT I AM THANKFUL FOR

It's easy to get caught up in Life's challenges (especially this year!), the day to day annoyances, and what's going wrong at any given time. I try to focus on the positive and have gratitude every day, but Thanksgiving is the perfect time to truly recognize all we have to be thankful for in our lives.


HEALTH
This really took on a new meaning this year. Health is something I sometimes take for granted but at a time when a virus has taken over a million lives across the world, it is something I am extra thankful for this year.

MY HUSBAND
I am thankful every day for the man that came into my life almost 30 years ago. No one makes me laugh harder, feel lighter, smile more, or love deeper.

FREEDOM
This is another one that took on more meaning this year. With the country divided and so much inequality, it was a reminder than I am so thankful to live in a country where I have the freedom to voice my opinion, to peacefully protest, and, most importantly, to vote.

MY HOME
I am so thankful for a safe, comfortable home. A bed to sleep in, a pillow for my head, running water, a way to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A safe haven that I love to return to each day.

TECHNOLOGY
I've often joked that I have an unhealthy attachment to my iPad, but this year has made me more grateful than ever for cell phones and tablets and computers that have allowed me to see people and stay in touch when being together isn't possible.

MUSIC
Music has always played a part in my life and been important to me. It can lift my mood, relax me, energize me, make me nostalgic, express my feelings, make me dance, and generally provide the soundtrack to my life.

A JOB I LOVE
With so many out of work this year, I am more thankful than ever for my job. I have been with the same company for many years, I work for people that I respect and admire, and I have the flexibility to work from home or go into the office. 

AGING
What? Thankful for aging and growing older? Absolutely! With age comes experience and (hopefully) wisdom. The ability to see the big picture and put things in perspective. And the knowledge that most any situation (good or bad) is temporary, and life does go on. Aging is a gift that is denied to many. 

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS
I choose to believe that most people are decent, kind people. And I see evidence of that all the time, in big ways and small. Whether it's holding the door for you, the person in front of you that paid for your drink, or just a smile that lifts your spirits on a bad day, I am thankful for all the people who spread small kindnesses.

BOOKS AND THE ABILITY TO READ
And any list of what I'm thankful for has to include books. The ability to read, the authors who create beloved characters and stories, the books that provide so many hours of enjoyment and escapism... for all of those I am so thankful. 



WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR THIS YEAR?


Review: Wild at Heart by K.A. Tucker

WILD AT HEART
K.A. Tucker
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Released: February 18, 2020
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4 stars

Calla Fletcher returns to Toronto a different person, struggling to find direction and still very much in love with the rugged bush pilot she left behind. When Jonah arrives on her doorstep with a proposition she can’t dismiss, she takes the leap and rushes back to Alaska to begin their exciting future together.

But Calla soon learns that even the best intentions can lead to broken promises, and that compromise comes with a hefty price—a log cabin in interior rural Alaska that feels as isolating as the western tundra.
With Jonah gone more than he’s home, one neighbor who insists on transforming her into a true Alaskan, and another who seems more likely to shoot her than come to her aid, Calla grapples with forging her own path. In a world with roaming wildlife that has her constantly watching over her shoulder and harsh conditions that stretch far beyond the cold, dark, winter months, just stepping outside her front door can be daunting.

This is not the future Calla had in mind, leaving her to fear that perhaps she is doomed to follow in her mother’s fleeing footsteps after all.

After reading – and loving – The Simple Wild in 2018, I was so excited when Tucker announced the continuation of Calla and Jonah’s story in Wild at Heart. And I thoroughly enjoyed this look at what happens beyond the fade-to-black happily ever after. 

When Calla returned to Alaska she was thrilled to be reunited with Jonah but that was quickly tempered by the realities of life in her newly adopted home. Calla was completely out of her element and began to feel resentful when she felt she was the one doing all the compromising. At times I was frustrated with her and wanted to tell her to stop acting like such a spoiled princess. While I could understand the culture shock she was experiencing, it took her a long time to engage in her new life and actually make an effort to expand her horizons. She constantly compared her new small town life to her big city background and found it lacking. Over time, sometimes even despite herself, she did meet new people, form connections, and began to make a place for herself in her new community. I really loved the growth in Calla over the course of the story and it felt like her evolution was the crux of the book.

I sensed the tectonic shift somewhere deep inside – my time in Alaska had changed me in ways I couldn’t pinpoint but also couldn’t ignore. Who I was and who I am now seem like two different people.

The secondary characters went a long way in making the story come to life. Tucker assembled a cast of characters that were bursting with personality and I could practically see strong-willed Muriel and the curmudgeonly Roy. And then there was calm and steady Jonah who was trying so hard to balance his love of flying and the long hours away from home with Calla’s shaky start in Alaska and her growing pains as she struggled to find an identity for herself outside of Jonah’s girlfriend. They hit some rocky patches along the way but I loved the journey. 


YOU CAN FIND WILD AT HEART HERE:


The Sunday Post #230 | November 15, 2020

   

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news: a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books,
 and share what's coming up on your blog in the week ahead. 
Tropical Storm Eta came through on Thursday and my company urged all employees to work from home (I was already working from home on Thursday so no change there). While the storm caused some damage where it made landfall (further south in Florida) it ended up being pretty anti-climactic here. Heavy rain and strong winds throughout the morning and by early afternoon the sun was out. So at least I don't have to add storm damage to the list of 2020 fails. 

After much consideration, I invited my mom and sisters over for dinner on Friday. There ended up being five of us (one sister did not come) and we dined al fresco with tables and chairs set up, distanced from one another. It was good to have a casual meal (pizza take-out for the win) and just spend some time together while being safe about it.

Update: Last week I mentioned the marinara sauce that I'd made. When I used some this week I used the immersion blender to smooth it out and I liked the texture so much better (just say no to chunky sauce!). I also added a bit of Splenda and that toned down the acidity perfectly. So, thanks to anyone who had the sugar suggestion. :) 
  
This week's 80's music fix is Lean On Me (1987) by Club Nouveau. Fun fact: At about the three-minute mark when they sing "we be jammin'", I was convinced they were saying "with pajamas." Didn't make a bit of sense but I was sure of it. It took years before I finally figured it out. :)



Tuesday, November 10

Thursday, November 12

Friday, November 13

WHAT I COMPLETED IN THE LAST WEEK

   

Read:

Listened to:


WHAT I'M CURRENTLY READING

   

Reading:

Listening to:


How was your week? Any new books? Any news to share?
I'd love to hear about it!

Short Take Reviews: In a Holidaze and The One for Me

 


IN A HOLIDAZE

Christina Lauren
Series: N/A
Published: October 6, 2020
Source: Gallery Books and Netgalley
4 stars

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

*****

In a Holidaze took all the things I love most about Christina Lauren’s contemporary romances and combined them all together to make a feel-good holiday story that had me smiling from start to finish.

Mae and her family spend every Christmas at a snowy Utah cabin with their lifelong friends. But this latest trip ends with much awkwardness (a drunken hook-up with her longtime crush’s brother – ack!) as well as the news that the cabin may be sold. A desperate plea to the powers that be to show her what will make her happy is the catalyst that finds Mae reliving the last week at the cabin again… and again and again… with varied results.

I loved Mae’s story and watching her journey from feeling stagnant in her job, and life in general, to someone who spoke her mind and made bold choices. Rounding out the story was a cast of secondary characters who practically leapt off the page. I fell in love with this close-knit group and all their many Christmas traditions. The romance played out in a way that made my heart happy and feeling completely satisfied. In a Holidaze was the perfect holiday read!


Corinne Michaels
Series: Arrowood Brothers #3
Published: August 18, 2020
Source: Purchased (Audible)
4 stars

Devney Maxwell has been my best friend since we were six years old, but she has no idea I’m in love with her.

Even when I’m on the road playing professional baseball, she’s my home—the only one I’ve ever known. But when I return to Sugarloaf to care for the family farm, I discover she’s trying to talk herself into a life with the wrong man … and I become desperate.

It only takes a single, perfect kiss to change everything.

I have six months to get it right with Devney—to convince her to leave this town and turn that kiss into forever.

I aim to do just that as I spend my days coaching her nephew’s baseball team, fixing up the farm, and loving her with all I have. Finally, it seems like our relationship is secure and we’ll find a way to make it work.

Then tragedy strikes, changing her life forever. She’s needed here more than ever, but as for me—there’s no way I can stay.

I know she’s the one for me, but I might have to let her go…

*****

I have been loving Corinne Michaels’ Arrowood Brothers series and The One for Me was no exception. It didn’t hurt that the friends-to-lovers trope (used so well here) is one of my favorites. Sean and Devney had been best friends since childhood. They saw each other through family traumas and formed a lasting bond. When Sean, a professional baseball player, returned to the small town of Sugar Loaf, he couldn’t keep denying that his feelings for Devney went well beyond friendship. Devney took some convincing but when she needed to move out of her parents’ home and went to stay with Sean… that helped speed up the process. 😊

In typical Michaels’ fashion, there was some serious heartbreak. As soon as I realized what was about to happen during a pivotal scene, I thought: Oh my goodness, she's done it again. Corinne is going to make me cry. (And then cue all the tears.) As much as the tragedy that occurred broke my heart, seeing the love and support that came in the aftermath made me melt. Devney was so strong and resilient, and Sean was so loving and willing to do whatever it took for them to have a future together. And while I had guessed the big secret/plot twist well before it was revealed, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment in the least. The solid foundation these two had as friends gave their relationship a steadiness and intensity that gave me all the feels. I could keep reading book after book about the Arrowood brothers and the women who love them. 


HAVE YOU READ EITHER OF THESE BOOKS?

Monthly Wrap Up | October 2020


 
WHAT HAPPENED IN OCTOBER
  • The weather started acting fall-ish in October and there were fewer and fewer days that topped 90 degrees. Thank you, Mother Nature.
  • Mid-month my company announced a voluntary return to the office. I began working a hybrid schedule - a few days a week in the office, a few days working from home - and it went well. The office is still largely empty but it's nice to have a small bit of normalcy and routine back.
  • I took part in Maureen's Book Club for the third month in a row (since its inception, actually) and totally enjoyed the October pick, Gypsy King by Devney Perry. It's one that had been on my TBR for a while so bonus points there. 
  • I was able to see one of my sisters and that was a real treat. We text all the time, but due to COVID it had been months since I'd seen her in person. I drove to her house at the beach to deliver her birthday gift and we stood a safe distance apart on her driveway and talked and caught up. It was great. :)
  • I'm not a TV watcher, but October actually saw me tuning in to a couple Hallmark Christmas movies... and enjoying them. Under normal circumstances I would pay them no mind (like every other year), but the sweet escapism was a welcome distraction and I imagine I'll be watching more of them.

WHAT I READ IN OCTOBER


4.5 STARS
The Lies That Bind - Emily Giffin
Muses & Melodies - Rebecca Yarros

4 STARS
Irresistible - Melanie Harlow
Gypsy King - Devney Perry
The Roommate - Rosie Danan

3.5 STARS
Broken Outsider - Lora Richardson
Where Do I Begin? - Elvis Duran

3 STARS
Heartache and Hope - Jay McLean

FORMATS
Total Read: 9
1 physical book
3 Kindle/e-books
5 audiobooks
(2 ARCs: Muses & Melodies, Broken Outsider)

TOP OF THE HEAP
Muses & Melodies, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird
While I didn't have a five star read in October, I did have a couple that stood out above the rest. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird was beautiful and emotional and I cried all the tears for/with Lydia. Silver wrote about grief in a way that made me feel Lydia's loss like a physical blow. Lydia's journey throughout the book was filled with highs and lows and the feeling of coming full circle was completely satisfying.

Muses & Melodies was the perfect wrap-up to the Hush Note trilogy - and surprisingly emotional. I loved Zoe but it was Nixon that gave the story the rawness that had me hurting for him. I loved the relationship between him and Zoe and her selflessness was something special.   

THE ONE THAT WASN'T FOR ME
Heartache and Hope
This book has a lot of five star reviews so I guess this is another case of it's-not-you-it's-me. Too much drama, too much misery. The tagline should be: Girl has sad back story, boy has sad back story, much misery and teen angst ensues. I was just over it. By the halfway point I realized I didn't really care what happened. So yeah, it wasn't bad but it just wasn't for me. There's a second book but I don't care enough to go there.

WHAT HAPPENED ON THE BLOG

I had 12 blog posts in October and shared six reviews: 

WHAT I'M CURRENTLY READING

   

Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater (Part One) - T.M. Frazier

Listening To: I'm excited to be delving into Invisible Girl, another one of Lisa Jewell's combination mystery/thriller + domestic drama. As usual, she doles out bits of information slowly and the story builds so gradually. Already it's obvious that things are not what they seem and people are definitely not who they seem. As always, I have theories but I am fully prepared to have them blown to bit by unexpected twists.

Reading: I'm also delving back into the King series. I've missed this dark and twisted world and I'm excited to finally get Preppy's story. He is so deliciously messed up.   



WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE READ IN OCTOBER? 
WHAT ARE YOU READING NOW?

Top Ten Tuesday: Name That Tune | Book Titles as Song Titles

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.


THIS WEEK'S TOPIC:
BOOK TITLES THAT WOULD MAKE GREAT SONG TITLES

This was a fun one mostly because it was so easy. Crazy how many book titles lend themselves so easily as song titles. And some of those have such a vibe that you just know what kind of song it would be.


I'm torn between a country song and a folky singer-songwriter vibe.
An atmospheric song from an indie band.
Heavy metal, obviously.
Actually, this is a song title by ELO from the early 80's.
A country song, no doubt.
Something by Maroon 5.
An adult-contemporary love song.
A Taylor Swift song about an ex.
A power ballad.
A pop/rock song from Imagine Dragons.


HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?